Allan Kettles continued his whirlwind wind energy tour of Pincher Creek last week, following up an Oct. 23 Town council appearance with an Municipal District of Pincher Creek public meeting two days later.
Kettles appeared at the meeting, put on by the MD’s Municipal Planning Commission, as part of an application to expand his Kettles Hill wind farm by another 55 turbines.
Kettles sat at a table in front of a few dozen people in the basement of the MD building. At his side were biologist Dale Paton and archeologist Brian Reeves, who have been carrying out the application’s ecological and historical impact study components. Ronald Hansford was also on hand to answer legal and planning questions.
Kettles opened up the meeting by announcing he was donating Reeves’ archeological studies for Kettles Hill to the Matthew Halton and Pincher Creek public libraries.
Kettles then ran through the state of the Kettles Hill wind farm and his expansion application. He said he has five turbines standing and 30 to be built under a previous application. He wants to build another 45 on MD lands and nine on Piikani lands.
Transport Canada has approved his expansion plans, Kettles said, but he hasn’t heard back from Nav Canada regarding airplane routes since May.
He said he has infrastructure built for the turbines and a specific location plotted out for each of them. His team assured the MD they would have all project information, including final “noise contour” information regarding projected decibel levels that would reach one overlooked house, by a Nov. 7 meeting.
However, they were surprised to hear they were supposed to get such information to planning commission members for review 14 days before the meeting – immediately, that is. MD officials gave them two extra days.
But even if Kettles gets MD approval, he said any expansion is likely to be held up by the dreaded “cap”, a limit on wind power contribution to the power pool, imposed by the Alberta Electric System Operator (ASESO), to ostensibly hedge against possible inconsistencies in energy production.
The cap goes hand in hand with a shortage of electrical transmission capacity coming out of Pincher Creek, and Kettles said a planned new transmission line is still too small and has been caught up in endless delays involving landowners, Native lands and varying levels of government permits. He said the projected transmission line date has been pushed even deeper into 2008.
“Every day it changes,” he said. “It gets very difficult to make any plans.”
Specifically, Kettles said he doesn’t want to buy expensive turbines unless he knows there will be space on the grid. And buying a turbine and getting it delivered can take up to two years, so any Kettles Hill expansion is a long way off. For this reason, Kettles is asking the MD for a five-year approval. “It’s either that or come back on your hands and knees every week asking `can we please get this thing extended,'” he said.
By Ben Curties
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